This pantry tomato soup with crispy bacon is like a warm embrace on a rainy day. When clouds fill the sky and temperatures drop I can’t help but crave a warm bowl of soup, preferably served with a melty grilled cheese sandwich for dipping. While hot tomato soup is synonymous with reprieve from a cold winter day, a peculiar paradox remains. Tomatoes are in season during the warmer months of Summer, how did this summer produce become the poster child for a cozy day in? Perhaps the good folks at Campbell Soups have the answer…
Since the craving for soup strikes me when tomatoes are out of season I developed this recipe that uses canned tomatoes (available year round) and tomato paste to increase the depth of flavor. To mitigate any tinny flavor from the tomatoes, I use the best canned tomatoes I can find (San Marzano’s are preferred) and I give them a light roast in the oven. The heat and olive oil from roasting help bring out the tomatoes’ natural sweetness and it gives one a great excuse to bake up a crispy bacon topping.
To balance out high acidity in the canned tomatoes, I also lightly caramelize an onion for sweetness. The tomato paste and garlic, cooked down with the onions, lend an umami savory flavor to the soup while the finishing splash of cream adds a subtle richness. Simmer the ingredients together and give everything a final puree with a blender and you’re ready for a truly comforting lunch or dinner.
Recipe notes: This pantry tomato soup with crispy bacon makes enough soup for 2-3 people but you can double or triple the ingredients if you want to feed a crowd. If fresh tomatoes are in season where you are, feel free to substitute fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones. Just add ½ cup of water or chicken broth to replace the missing canned tomato juice.
The tomato soup recipe when you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand.
1, 28-ounce canned plum tomatoes
1 ½ Tablespoon olive oil
½ pound bacon
1 yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream
Grilled cheese sandwich for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Drain the canned plum tomatoes (reserving the juices) and place the tomatoes on the baking sheet.
Drizzle the tomatoes with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Roast the tomatoes in the oven until they’ve dried out a bit and are roasted in a few spots, 20 minutes.
Lay the bacon out on the second baking sheet in an even layer. Place the bacon in the oven with the tomatoes and cook until the bacon is crispy and browned, 17-20 minutes (rotating the pan halfway through baking).
Transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
While the tomatoes and bacon are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
After about 4 minutes, add the onion to the oil along with ½ teaspoon salt.
Cook and stir the onion over medium heat until it has become translucent and it’s starting to brown on the edges, 10-15 minutes.
Add the crushed garlic and tomato paste. Cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste is dark red, 5 minutes.
Add the juice from the can of tomatoes to the pot along with the chicken broth and the roasted plum tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let the soup cook for 20-30 minutes.
Slowly stream the cream into the soup, stir, and turn off the heat.
Using an immersion blender (or carefully using a regular blender) blend the soup until smooth.
Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Crumble the bacon over the top of the soup or serve the bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches on the side.